“A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement will provide good insurance for a child,” says holistic nutritionist Gail Michalski. “These years are so important and young growing bodies can stand to benefit from this added protection.”
Adults can get all they need from eating a good-quality, wholesome diet, but “most kids don’t eat this perfect diet,” Michalski explains. “Many children eat sugar-laden and nutrient-void foods, and a daily multivitamin will provide a safety net.”
“It is possible to get everything you need from whole foods, but we live in a society that doesn’t place a strong emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods,” says vegan mom and nutrition specialist Rea Frey. “Kids usually don’t get all the vitamins they need, and many children spend more time indoors, which requires a vitamin D supplement.”
Professional fitness trainer Scott White agrees and says, “Every child should take a multivitamin to help provide additional nutrients. Much of the food we buy now is low-quality, our soil is depleted and we need to provide our children with much better nutrition.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that a daily multivitamin isn’t usually necessary if your toddler eats a variety of food. But if she doesn’t eat much meat or fish, iron-fortified cereal, or iron-rich dark green vegetables, she may need an iron supplement. The best way to know whether your child needs a daily multivitamin – and what kind to give her – is to check with her doctor.
And whether or not your doctor recommends a multivitamin, your child will still need some extra vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which build bones. Sunscreen prevents sunlight from synthesizing vitamin D, and it’s difficult to get this essential nutrient from milk alone, so doctors recommend giving children 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily.
Most multivitamins contain vitamin D. If your doctor recommends a multivitamin, your child will usually not need an extra vitamin D supplement.